What do the homeless do on days like today? The weather in Pittsburgh today is frigid. What do I mean by frigid? The announcer on the radio said it was 20 degrees outside. I believe it. And the official start of winter is 21 December.
This morning, the Old Soldier walked two blocks to the new CVS/Pharmacy store to pick up milk and orange juice and that convinced me to stay in-doors for the rest of the day.
Outside my windows, the early afternoon sky is light blue as white, fluffy clouds slowly float by. When I went to the store, I had to walk gingerly. Patches of ice covered some of the sidewalk.
One Step From Homelessness
On a day like today, it is no time to be homeless. Several days ago I was at Armand’s in Little Italy. It was cold outside, but not frigid like today. When I walked in a woman who use to be a regular sat on a high stool at the bar. Let’s call her Mary. I knew Mary was going through some bad times since the last time I saw her in Armand’s.
I guess she had to tell her troubles to someone. Mary is a senior citizen like me. Some time in the summer or fall there was a new man in her life. A fine arts painter. I met the painter and liked him. I Googled him and his work and sure enough there he was, a graduate of an Ivy League school and a well-respected abstract painter. He and I would sit in Armand’s and talk about art, painting and writing.
From what I can piece together from what Mary told me, he moved in with her. He was paying the bills because she either quit or was fired from her nursing job. You never know if people tell you the whole truth. The painter was in his 70s. He had a stroke and did not recover. I knew all this. When I saw Mary several days ago things had gotten worse.
To make a long story short, Mary ended up in the emergency room. She found out she had a bad heart. While she was in the hospital, her land lord evicted her because her rent was late. So now she was living with a friend, a man, but he is bi-polar (so she said) and he could kick her into the streets any day. She had already called around to different homeless shelters (just in case) and she had applied for disability benefits. (She’s not old enough for social security. I get social security and two pensions.) In the meantime she was living from day-to-day.
I sat on my stool speechless. I let her talk. I would have been foolish to take her into my small apartment. And I was determined not to be foolish in my old age. The best I could do was to buy her a beer before I left.
But no one should be homeless in frigid weather like today.
This is the Old Soldier reporting from Pittsburgh.